Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A shivery sigh released

For the tournament finals today, we faced a fellow NDG team. The pre-game player announcements alternated between players from each team. Our teams warmed up together en masse instead of each team in its own zone.

Then we got down to business.

We gave up the first goal early but soon climbed into a 2-1 lead. The Panthers tied it, but we went up 4-2. They scored and we put another in to go to 5-3 in the third.

Child Three continued his stellar play but couldn't stop the other team's superstar every time and the game was knotted at 5-5 as time dwindled. Our #3 worked his heart out and gave us the lead with two and a half minutes to go, but the superstar tied it a minute later. Overtime solved nothing, and to another shootout we went.

Our first shooter shot wide and Child Three kept things even with a quick outward stab of his right leg.

Our second skater beat Child Three's girlfriend rival through the legs on her butterfly (which she's awesome at, by the way). Child Three reached to make another good pad save to keep the lead. (That shooter is a great hockey player and an even greater kid, but just can't ever beat Child Three, not even during our practices.)

Our third shooter had a good shot but it was too centered and the goalie was able to surround it with her body.

The superstar had the other team's last shot - unless he'd score. He skated in and held his stick blade at about a 35-degree angle to the ice, which told me he was going to shoot high. Sure enough, he did - over Child Three's glove.

Our fourth shooter skated in off to the forehand side and skated across the crease to his backhand, with which he lifted a hard shot that rang off the post and into the net. That was the nicest shot I think I've seen all year from anyone.

Again, the other team had to beat Child Three or lose. The skater came in and took a shot that Child Three shifted to get in front of and blocked with his elbow. We won, and to do it we beat a team that hadn't yet lost a game or even tied one.

I still feel sick.

UPDATE: Elvi has some photos up. Here's the shootout-winning save:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tournament time

Our NDG Novice B team is playing in the tournament we host over the holidays. (We're the Cougars in the results page I linked to.)

Having won our division in a tough game yesterday that pitted the two unbeaten teams against one another, we played a Boisbriand team today that had lost one game all year. That one loss, by the score of 4-3, was to our fellow NDG team, the Panthers, in this tournament last weekend.

Going into the third period, we were down 3-1. Boisbriand scored all their goals on rebounds or goalmouth scrambles. We had our rebounds, but often didn't have players in place to cash in. They did, and our defence wasn't used to playing against a team this solid in its hockey sense and capability.

The third period was fantastic hockey. Child Three's pads flashed out left and right to stop good opportunities, and we scored a goal on a breakaway. We tied it with only a few minutes to go.

We played a five-minute overtime that settled nothing.

Both goalies played marvelous games, although they had a huge gulf in styles. The Boisbriand goalie was a big kid who always tried a butterfly style, the kind that slides backward and ends up with the goalie sprawled belly down on the ice. Child Three is more upright and mobile, relying on angles and speed to get in the way of the puck.

Still tied, off to a shootout we went. The head coach sent me to counsel Child Three. He skated toward me at the bench, and I could see that his eyes were as big as saucers. "I can really feel the adrenaline," he said. I asked him if he felt shaky, and he told me he did. So did I.

As home team, we decided to shoot first.

Our first shooter, who'd scored our second goal, deked the goalie and had half a net to shoot at: 1-0.

Their first shooter came straight and let go a good glove-side shot. Child Three didn't catch it, but did get his elbow in the way: 1-0.

Our second shooter also tried a deke, but was stopped with a beautiful butterfly slide across the crease: 1-0.

Their second shooter swung wide and came across the slot. Child Three, on the ice to make a save, lunged for it but there was little doubt: 1-1.

Our third shooter - hmmm. I don't remember what our third shooter did, but it didn't go in: 1-1.

I had explained to Child Three after the goal that if a skater swings wide like the shootout scorer had, it's going to be a deke. If the shooter comes straight in, it's usually going to be a shot. Their third shooter came straight in and launched a hard shot about knee high. Child Three sprawled on his side and took it in the head to keep the shootout going.

Our fourth shooter challenged the butterfly with a shot at the five hole, which squeaked in: 2-1.

Boisbriand's fourth shooter came in and took another good shot about hip-high to the glove side. Child Three again leapt to get in the way and the puck disappeared. The referee skated over and signaled no goal. Child Three got up and the puck was underneath him. He'd made another head save, he explained later, although he didn't know where the puck had gone to.

Victory was ours today. We play our fellow NDGers tomorrow in the championship game. If this keeps up, I'm not going to live to 50.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The miniature poodle of discomfort is staying with us for a week again, but she hasn't peed inside the house (yet), as far as we know.

We prepared for our little guest by shifting furniture. We replaced our second malfunctioning TV with an ever bigger (used) one, and it came with a cabinet that fits it just right. The cabinet has its rear corners cut off at an angle so that the front is rectangular and the back half hexagonal (picture a home plate with the rear point sliced off parallel to the front edge).

The cabinet can fit in a corner, although I don't think it's meant to. Regardless, we put it in a corner, to the left of where our old TV was. We moved the piano to where the old TV cabinet was. We actually have a blank wall in our living room now. It looks much bigger. I wonder what Elvi did with all the photos that used to clutter the top of the old cabinet.

We did all this moving last Sunday, the day before we hosted a well-attended holiday gathering. By "we", of course, I mean Elvi. It was easier to move all the stuff than it should have been, and a brave choice to do all that before the party.

Maybe I should have a photo to show you.

In about an hour, Elvi's sister and her three kids will arrive from California to stay with us for a week. We will pick them up at the airport - again, "we" meaning Elvi.

Bonus snapshot:

Look, I can Facebook in the future:

At first, it seems like you can figure out how that error occurs, but with a little more thought, it becomes devilishly perplexing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A very video Vednesday

The videos of Child Three's all-star game are up.

This took a bit longer than I planned, as I experimented with video formats and sizes. I'm not 100% pleased with the result, but I'll follow the "80% is good enough" principle on this one and call it done.

I had a little panic attack Monday when halfway through the editing process iMovie refused to accept clips from the camera. There was space on the drive I was using, but I transferred some large files off to make more room. That didn't help, so I tried to move them back and got a Mac OS X error message, error -36. A panicky half hour of research later, I opened up Disk Utility and repaired some errors in the directory. That was the problem, and it was smooth sailing - and editing - from that point on.

First period (Child Three rides the bench for this one):

Second period:

Third period:

If you want higher resolution versions of this, ask me for a DVD. It looks much better. Why do I use Google Video instead of YouTube? Because YouTube restricts uploads to videos up to ten minutes long and the hockey periods run longer than that.

Bonus video:

Two great tastes that taste great together:

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Hockey Montreal held this year's Novice B all-star game at Rodrigue Gilbert Arena in Pointe aux Trembles. That's so far east (northeast for non-Montrealers) that every highway exit has a sign for a bridge. It was more than a half-hour drive from our home in the west-central region of the city/island.

I woke at 8:00 a.m., showered and fed Child Three, and we loaded his goalie equipment in the car. We set out at 9:15, given the light snow and threat of more. We got to the arena by 10:00 a.m., the time we were told to show up. We were among the first to appear, but soon everyone else filtered in. The two NDG head coaches didn't make it. Neither had a child in the game and the drive was long, although both were invited to coach in the game. Our head coach designated me his proxy.

I brought a video camera and filmed a bit in the dressing room. The first part of the morning was a skills competition. I was, of course, mostly interested in the goalies, one in particular, and I focused my filming on that - when I could focus. At one point the camera would no longer auto-focus or even manually focus, although it would still zoom in and out. The problem went away after I turned the camera off and back on, but I'd already spent some anxiety. I was able to to get some footage of the two NDG goalies chatting during a break - maybe discussing what they'll name their little goalie children after they hook up.

I filmed the skills competition from the bench, but there were four coaches back there and I could get a better angle on the game from higher up, so I left the kids and raced up into the stands.

Last year, I was head coach at this all-star game, which is divided into the East division against the West (we only play inside our division during the season). We got shellacked, something like 8-3. This year the game was much more even. The change in player age classification from one that matches the school-year date of October to the end of the chronological year seems to have affected the eastern half of the city as much as it did us.

There are three goalies on each team and one plays each period. The other NDG goalie, started and had only three shots, although she had to make three great saves. Child Three grabbed the second period and wrung its neck. He played superbly as the East team came on more strongly. He was so impressive, other parents looked envious as they asked if he were my son.

The third goalie came into the third period with a 2-0 lead, but let in a weak goal among some good saves. A short time into the third period, though, he pulled something in his hip or groin and left the game. The head coach tapped Child Three to go back in net.

If that kid put on a show in the second, he raised the roof in the third. Wow, did he play great. The crowd roared after some of his stops, particularly one in which he stretched and reached and deflected a sure goal headed into the top left corner. He didn't let anything past him and the West team won 2-1.

The organizers handed out awards for the skills competition following the game. Child Three won for best goalie, and you can click that image for a close-up of his medal. (I don't think his game performance entered into this decision, but it would have seemed odd to see any other goalie win that after his game.) Player of the game for the West was #40 on the Ahuntsic Bruins, who we saw in that game, and who turns out to be still six years old. I suspect that had Child Three not won the best goalie award, he would have won that award as well.

(I do feel badly for the other NDG goalie, who in a fair universe would have spent some time in goal in the third period, too.)

Most of my footage is still in the editing suite, but I did slap together a film of the skills competition. I'm not happy with the Google Video compression of the MPEG/MP4 (for some reason much worse than the conversion of the earlier QuickTime .mov files), so I will redo it once I get the game films online. In the meantime, here's the initial version.

Once the all-star game ended, we came home, relaxed for an hour plus, and headed out to play a game at the NDG Novice/Atom tournament. We played a hard-fought game against the Boisbriand Laser B2 and won 1-0 as our boys played their hearts out and butts off. Not bad, eh? An all-star game, an award for best goalie, and a shutout all in the same day.

And today, in league play, we took a convincing 3-2 win over the team that completely outplayed us to a 2- tie last week. Last week, we had four shots; this week, the skate was on the other foot.

Bonus Diddy:

Someone from Seanjohn.com visited 101 after a Google search for ""misunderstood artist" - for which thus humble blog ranks fourth in the known universe.

If I knew what I'm doing right with respect to Google Pagerank, I'd bottle and sell it and make a fortune.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gotta push it better

I'm getting back to my current script, prompted in part by a new writer's group I've joined.

It takes so much effort for me to sit and write these days. I'm not sure what the problem is. My schedule has gone all wonky, as well. I'm offset a good five hours from the rest of the world, which makes me feel odd, but does give me a nice chunk of time to use late at night - as long as I use it to write.


Bonus fix:

I added new code for the Last.fm radio widget in the sidebar. I'm not sure what happened to the old code to break it, but you can now listen to my preferred music until butterscotch pudding leaks out of your ears.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Small world

Child Two was in a production of "Seussical" this weekend.

The cast also contained my first roommate in Montreal, with whom I shared an apartment on the Plateau in the early '90s. The Cat in the Hat was played by the daughter of two of my high school teachers, one of whom taught me Traditions (a course in Jewish culture) while the other taught me math and is now the principal of the school, to which Child Two is likely to head next year.

I had a brief but pleasant reunion with my roommate's siblings. We used to play D&D together, and they still play. Like I need more activities to attend.... Child Three has hockey practices Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, then games Saturday (two games, one of which is the all-star game) and Sunday.

He played a heck of game this past weekend, saving a point for the team in a 2-2 tie. I should have filmed that game....

Bonus funny:

My fellow assistant coach addressed our team in French before the game. I was preoccupied in another conversation and didn't listen to what he said. I guess he told the team that he would speak to them in French, because when he finished, #3 cocked his head and spoke in his European accent, "Ce n'est pas français, c'est québecois."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cougars on tape

Thanks to Tom, Sony, Naila, FireWire, iMovie HD, and Google, I present to you last Sunday's Novice B game. Child Three is the goalie with the leaping-monkey style in the white sweater.

First period:

Second period:

Third period:

If you want a larger video with better resolution, I can burn this for you on a DVD. Awesome footage, Naila.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Auditorium again (spoiler)

I solved the level for Act 3 Spring, a.k.a. 3:6, of the Auditorium demo once I stopped trying to split the beam (or "flow", in Auditorium parlance).

The solution:

Have one large attractor ("attract control") pull the entire beam through the yellow filter ("color sphere") and then counterclockwise to the right through the lower yellow amplifier ("container"). Place the left arrow ("directional") so that it pushes the beam as it enters the three o'clock position and make it large enough to keep pushing the beam more or less on a straight line leftward through the upper yellow amp.

If done properly, the beam will continue to the left, pass through the blue filter, and through the rightmost blue amp. Set the second attractor so that it takes this now blue beam and curls it clockwise through the other two blue amps. The beam will naturally pass through the red filter and trigger the red amp when you do this.

Ta dah!

There's actually one more level after 3:6, but it's inconsequentially trivial; all it does is show off a rabbit button, which speeds up beams.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ice, ice, baby

Child three is a star, an all star! He was selected to be a goalie for the Hockey Montreal Novice B all-star game to take place December 20. If the selection criteria are the same as last year, the team's being in second place last week has a lot to do with it, but I think he's deserving regardless.

After a day of snow yesterday, traffic was ludicrous. It's like this city's drivers - and municipal workers - don't know how to deal with snow. Because the going was slow, drivers would grab every idiotic advantage they could and create gridlock as they invaded intersections. It took me an hour to drive home from Child Three's hockey practice last night, normally a ten-minute drive that time of day.

We had freezing rain overnight. Our front walk and driveway are still under snow and ice because the guy we pay in advance to shovel probably shouldn't be paid in advance.

Elvi has some photos she took this morning. We kept Children Two and Three home from school because we didn't want to drive in the mess for a scheduled half day of school. We have to get Child Two out to a theatre near Papineau by 5:00 p.m. for a play rehearsal. I'm not looking forward to that, and I'm not even going to be making the trip. Elvi should leave within the hour in order to get there on time.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Happy now?

Wife One complained last night that I haven't blogged since the weekend. I don't have anything planet-shattering to write about so I'll throw some odds and ends in here.

• Our novice hockey team earned a second loss this past weekend. The team just wasn't up to play and coasted through the game. One of the opposing players had too many chances to use his amazing shot, with which he roofed three goals. We lost 4-3, after having beaten this same team 6-0 two weeks ago.

• Wired has a follow-up top-ten list of animal videos. I've seen most of them before but there a fun way to waste a half-hour with your kids. Follow-up to what, I hear you wonder. To this.

• Last month, Roger Ebert re-published a piece that Frank Cottrell Boyce wrote about writing screenplays. It's succinct and to the gut. Read it.

• I've been trying out the Mac browser called Shiira. The Wikipedia page on the software says more than I want to. I like the thumbnail tabs, but I'm not sure I like them enough to let them keep the monitor real estate. It is fast and stable - no doubt about that.

• Looking for a December time-waster? Play Auditorium. You use a limited series of bending fields to guide particle beams around the playing surface. The goal is to guide your beam(s) across amplifiers to create a musical composition. Right now, the game is only exists as a limited beta version, but it's one of those consuming attractions that will leave you sad once you've finished all levels. I assume it will leave me sad, too, if I ever figure out how to complete the final puzzle, 3:6. Even the online hints I found don't work for me.

• I'm glad HDTV prices are plunging faster than the Dow because our big CRT TV decided to freak out. The colours have gone uncorrectably off and the corners of the screen have distinctly yellow wedges. Everything is mostly blue and red has disappeared from the image - but the channel display characters are red, which really confuses me. The TV was fine Saturday night and went blue sometime Sunday. I wouldn't be too surprised to find this to be the fault of a wire clip that had materialized inside the TV.

• Looking for a geek gift under $50? If your beloved geek has a pile of hard drives, consider ThinkGeek's external SATA/USB hard-drive dock. The dock accepts both 2.5" and 3.5" drives and drives may be hot-swapped. Me? I need a new hockey bag.

• Google has its online office suite, but where do you go for an online image manipulation tool? SUMO Paint is a Web-based competitor for Photoshop - yes, Photoshop. This is not your older brother's online painting program. SUMO Paint looks and acts one heck of a lot like Photoshop, right down to the layers. I haven't used it much, and I don't understand the business model, but this is one of the most impressive applications of Web tech that I've ever seen.

• Now, if you think the above diversions will stunt your kids' intellectual development, think again. Don't confuse your own being left behind with your kids' ability to assimilate the new.

And that's all I have to say 'bout that.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Webs the not-so-handyman

I tackled two nagging problems yesterday - well, I tried to.

Earlier in the week, I bought winter windshield wipers and two new headlight bulbs. I've been driving around for a while with only the passenger-side headlight working. Once in a while, oncoming cars would thoughtfully blink their headlights at me. I thought it was time to rectify the situation, and I needed new wipers as well. And while I changed one headlight, I might as well change the other.

Ideally, I would have set out to do this while temperatures were still above freezing. We have a garage, but we use it as storage. Yesterday was bright and pretty close to freezing, so I trudged into action.

I popped and propped the hood of the van and took a look at the passenger side headlight assembly. The air filter cover is in the way and the manual tells me to remove it before working on the light. It's held in place with rusty screws - or bolts, maybe. I try to loosen them with my Phillips head screwdriver, but these rusty things are in tight and all I'm doing is stripping them. That's not a problem - this is the headlight that works, and if this older bulb isn't as bright as a newer one on the driver side, big deal.

I move across the engine compartment and unplug the more accessible socket on the driver's side. The manual says to squeeze the socket so the clips let go, then pull. I squeeze and pull, then squeeze harder and pull harder but nothing budges. I call Elvi out of the house to have a go but nothing happens when she squeezes and pulls either. We try to lever it out with a screwdriver, but it still stays put. Eventually, I just yank - and it comes out. There are no clips.

The socket's a bit greasy and looks like it's held together with epoxy, but the high beams work so I know it's transmitting current. I pull off the weatherstripping and remove a wire clip that holds the bulb in place. I carefully set aside the weatherstripping and clip. I don't want to lose them in the engine compartment. My old bulb looks fine, but the support of one element has a bit of soot on it. It probably burned out inside the support, I tell myself.

When I bought the bulbs, the big book of bulbs told me I need the 9005 bulbs. The big book was wrong. I drive to Canadian Tire to exchange them for the proper 9003 bulbs. I also buy Child Three a hat and a pair of gloves he badly needs.

Back in my driveway, I put the new 9003 bulb in the headlight. I put the wire clip in place and as I'm about to tighten the screw that holds it in, it springs out and vanishes. I can't see it anywhere. I look inside the engine compartment, I remove the floor of the engine compartment, I even tape a rare-earth magnet to a long screwdriver in hopes of picking up the wire from a crevice. Elvi helps with this, too, but the wire clip has disappeared from this known dimension.

I steam a little then try using the weather stripping, which fits snugly, by itself. It holds the bulb in place adequately.

I reattach the socket and try the lights: nothing has changed. The light is still out. I try the high beams, and two funny things happen. The right headlight beam dims and drops on the garage door to my front, and the left headlight lights up. There's no high-beam light on my dashboard, but there wasn't one before. I've been driving around with one high-beam on. No wonder other drivers were flashing their headlights at me. Both low-beam lights work fine, and probably did before. The socket must need replacing, but that's beyond me. People could die, probably me.

At least changing the wipers was fruitful.

I spent the evening working on my laptop. There's a problem with the power socket. The plug (plugs, really - I tried more than one) won't steadily transfer a charge. The power flickers constantly, changing screen brightness and not allowing me to do anything with it for more than ten minutes at a time. My local shop estimated $140 for the repair but the laptop, an old Dell Inspiron 8100, isn't worth that. The shop said the socket probably needed to be soldered, so I disassembled the computer to see what I could do with that.

The socket is tucked behind the cooling fans, so I'd have to remove those. I unscrewed one of the tiny screws that holds the fans in place - and lost it in the bowels of the laptop. This lost piece of metal remained in our plane of existence, however, I was able to shake it out onto the tablecoth - twice.

I stopped trying to remove the fans, and tried to assess the socket with them in place. It's fixed firmly in place, so I have no idea what to fix. It may be a loose connecting inside the socket, but I can't fix that and it's not worth it to have someone else try. I may just go buy a $150 laptop. This one has reached the end of its useful life.

Friday, December 05, 2008

About this blog

According to Typealyzer....

The analysis indicates that the author of http://101squadron.com/blog.html is of the type:

ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful (sic) type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

This shows what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing:

It might be interesting to make some Web pages of pure screenwriting and do the analysis on those. Might.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wildlife and tangents

While driving home at 6:30 last night from Carrefour Angrignon, Child Three and I spotted a canid run across the road in front of our car. I thought it was a red fox, although the more I think about it, the more I suspect it was a coyote. It seems big for a fox, although the tip of the tail was light. Both red foxes and coyotes inhabit the Island of Montreal. Of one thing I'm certain: it was not a dog.

Speaking of driving, the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied has published yet another study on mobile-phone use while driving. Research has already established that using a mobile phone impairs driving whether or not you hold the phone or use a hands-free system. Got that? Speaker phones or earpieces do not help.

This study looked at why live conversation does not have the same effect and concluded that passengers simplify their conversations and/or stop talking according to driving conditions. Passengers are on the scene and can adjust to environmental clues; people on the phone cannot.

Getting back to wildlife.... Wayne P. Armstrong runs Wayne's Word. Armstrong started teaching biology courses in the Life Sciences Department of Palomar College in 1966, and he has transferred his coursework to a stupendous Web site. He teaches three online courses, Biology 101 and two botany courses whose credits you might be able to count towards your undergraduate degree.

Interested in AP course credits, in biology or some other subject? HippoCampus (I love that name) offers full-blown courses that will prepare you for AP exams. Being Canadian, I have no idea how the AP system works. For me, the attraction is HippoCampus's utility as a study guide or tutoring aid. What an amazing free resource.

Bonus healthy Mac:

Apple replaced the malfunctioning ATI X1900XT with the rev. 2 version of the same card and all is perfect once again.